Bisphenol A (BPA) has been found in certain amounts in 95% of dollar bills in the USA, and a worrying proportion of bills and paper receipts with high levels of BPA. BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical which has been linked to a higher risk of developing several diseases and conditions, such as cancer, obesity, early puberty, and infertility. BPA has also been found to affect brain development of babies exposed to it in the womb. The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, co-authors of a new study, say that the BPA on paper money is not chemically bound, it is a powdery film that easily comes off onto human skin when touched.

A study issued this month, called On The Money: BPA on Dollar Bills and Receipts, investigated how far bisphenol A has permeated the market through receipt paper. The authors also wanted to determine how much BPA was escaping onto paper money – something virtually everyone touches with bare hands and carries around on their person.

The researchers found that:

  • Large quantities of BPS were found in half of all thermal paper receipts gathered in 10 states and Washington DC
  • Lower amounts of BPA were found in 95% of dollar bills

BPA in other products, such as baby bottles, is stuck (bound) to the product and does not come off as easily as it does on paper receipts and paper money, the authors wrote.

Lead author, Erika Schreder, Staff Scientist at the Washington Toxics Coalition, said:

    “Our findings demonstrate that BPA cannot be avoided, even by the most conscious consumer. This unregulated use of large amounts of BPA is having unintended consequences, including exposure to people when we touch receipts.”

Andy Igrejas, Director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, said:

    “BPA on receipts, dollar bills, and in many other products, is a direct result of the absurdly lax controls on chemicals in the United States. The 112th Congress should make reform of the failed 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act a top legislative priority to protect American families for generations to come.”

Highest quantities of BPA transfer onto the skin came from crumpling a receipt between two fingers and a thumb, the report revealed.

The authors of the report wrote:

    “Chemicals that can cause cancer, disrupt hormones, cause reproductive harm and infertility, or cause learning disabilities have no place in the products we bring into our homes. New law must reduce or eliminate the use of known toxics on a strict timeline.

    New law should expedite the approval of new chemicals that are inherently low-hazard and/or would serve as safer alternatives for problematic uses of existing chemicals such as BPA. Innovative companies could use this expedited approval to meet the growing global market for safer chemicals.”

On The Money: BPA on Dollar Bills and Receipts

Written by Christian Nordqvist